Shore Regional Headed Back To Group I Finals
West Long Branch -- Following the dismantling of fourth-seeded Florence on Friday night at Robert E. Feeney Field, top-seeded and still undefeated Shore is heading back to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I finals with a 42-0 win.
The Blue Devils wasted no time in this one taking the opening kickoff out to their own 30 yard line and thats when the offense went to work. The Blue Devils used a patient running game all night long with the dual ground attack of senior fullback Doug Goldsmith (110 yards on 15 carries) and senior running back Jack Britton (65 yards on 10 carries and 1 TD).
On their opening drive that went 11 plays for 70 yards it was Goldsmith and Britton setting the tone early with several power runs up the middle that Florence had no answer for and resulted in positive yards. Goldsmith nearly got the opening score on a cut back run to the left but was tackled at the one yard line. Junior quarterback Matt Pennell called his own number with 5:48 remaining in the quarter and put the Blue Devils ahead 7-0.
After the kickoff was returned to the Florence 41 yard line, the first play from scrimmage saw senior defensive end Eric Graham strip the ball and the Blue Devils senior outside linebacker Connor Remple recovered it on the 39 yard line. It took Shore Regional just two plays to make them pay as Pennell found a wide open senior wideout Duke Russo for a 3 yard strike to make the score 14-0.
Afterwards Shore Regional head coach Mark Costantino added "anytime you get up on someone early make them doubt themselves a little bit it makes it easier…the fumble recovery on their opening drive was a huge play for our defense and our offense made them pay."
Shore Regional did not let up with their early lead and early in the second quarter after quarter back Pennell was stop on a fourth down run in Florence territory, it would be Pennell's turn to get in on the defensive action. On Florence's second play senior fullback Joe Foga looked like he was about to turn the corner on the Blue Devils defense when Pennell led a defensive charge and nailed Foga and popped the ball loose. It would be Graham again in the right spot for coach Constantino's defense as he picked the ball up at the 32 yard line and scramble for the touchdown. The Blue Devils would be called for a block in the back taking the touchdown off the board but still held onto possession with just over seven minutes to play in the half.
The Blue Devils would add two more scores in the final six minutes of play against Florence who after the Foga fumble seemed to have cashed it in. Two plays after the turnover Britton would break free untouched for a 30 yard touchdown run. After a three and out by Florence, the Blue Devils went into their two minute offense and with :37.5 seconds remaining Pennell would hit Russo for his second touchdown reception of the half to go into the locker room with a 28-0 lead.
Constantino noted "the catches that Russo made were just fantastic and it is nothing new for him to step up when we need him in the passing game, he beat the defender on the first one and made a great one handed grab on the other."
The Blue Devils were on a roll the first half and were only slowed down when officials stopped the game to have a remote controled drone removed from the area, which stopped play for about two minutes. Once play resumed and Florence received the ball with :35 remaining in the half and after converting their only first down of the half on a twenty yard pass, Shore Regional's defense would come up with their third turnover of the half when they picked off Florence at the three yard line.
The Blue Devils added to the scoring late in the fourth quarter, when junior running back Mark Russo went 32 yards to make it 35-0 and then junior Lukas Jackey capped off the scoring with a 1 yard run with under two minutes to play to seal the Blue Devils win 42-0.
Next up...Shore Regional travels to Rumson-Fair Haven (also a state finalist in NJSIAA Group II) for a Thanksgiving affair and then a return trip to the NJSIAA Group I Championship game against #3 seeded Palmyra. The Blue Devils will be looking for back-to-back titles and the schools 7th overall. Also on the line is the Shore Conference's longest win streak which the Blue Devils currently hold at 17 games.
Offensive game ball…Shore Regional's Doug Goldsmith with 110 yards rushing.
Defensive game ball…Shore Regional's Eric Graham with 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery.